Slice of life: A labour of love – and victory
I was very nervous. I had never been at the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) representing workers. I’ve always been at the CCMA as an applicant. So for me to go there, it was like that type of moment where you need to prove yourself.
I was nervous but, the moment I got in there and the commissioners started, then all of the experience that I had worked on just flowed in. I then had to tell myself that I could do it and indeed I did it.
We managed to convince the employers to take them back. Those Shoprite workers that we were representing were retrenched back in February, but sometime in August we managed to reach an agreement and they were reinstated — all six of them.
For me that felt like it was a big victory because it was my first case and I’d managed to get the bosses to reinstate them when with most of the companies you can go through the same process and they don’t take the workers back. I had managed to do that with no experience of representing workers at the CCMA.
I was happy. I don’t want to lie, I was very happy. And I took that experience and used it. For me, since I’ve been working at the Casual Workers Advice Office, I have been excelling because I haven’t lost a case.
I like to organise workers because I know I’m good at it. What I like most is to empower other workers to be like me, so that they can represent themselves.
As the Casual Workers Advice Office we won the case against the CCMA at the Labour Court to change rule 30 that said only unions and lawyers can represent workers. I see this as an opportunity for every worker to be strong enough to represent themselves. — Edgar Mokgola, a worker organiser at the Casual Workers Advice Office, as told to Sarah Smit